We’ve only got one planet, so we should act sustainably to protect it. Instilling sustainability habits and education can start young. This includes teaching our kids to appreciate our planet, conserve resources, and take care of the environment so that future generations can enjoy living on Earth too. These 25 sustainability activities are designed to teach kids how to support the health and future of our planet.
1. Play Outside
My appreciation for the planet grows as I spend more time in outdoor spaces. The same is likely true for your kids. You can plan outdoor activities and games for your kids to connect with the beautiful natural environment of our one precious planet.
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2. Plant a Tree
Every year, the Earth loses billions of trees from deforestation. Trees are vital to our ecosystem as they help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Kids can help replenish trees by planting seeds of their choice in a local forest or park.
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3. Harvest Rainwater
The Earth has a limited supply of fresh water so its conservation should be part of our sustainability discussions. Your kids can help set up water tanks or buckets to harvest rainwater. They can become little garden helpers and use the water they gather for your backyard plants.
4. Build a Solar Oven
Have you ever used the sun to cook a delicious meal? Your kids can build a simple solar oven using a cardboard box and tin foil. They can try baking cookies or heating leftover pizza in their new DIY device.
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5. Pack a Plastic-Free Lunch
Skip those single-use plastic bags and consider investing in reusable containers. Your kids can decorate their lunch containers to make them more visually appealing. This might even motivate them to help with packing their own lunch!
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6. Go on a Local Shopping Trip
Bring your kids along the next time you grab groceries and teach them about sustainable shopping along the way. Communicate to kids the value of buying local goods to support their local farmers and vendors in the community.
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7. Visit a Sustainable Farm
How about a field trip to a farm? More specifically, a farm that implements sustainable agriculture methods. Your kids can learn about the techniques that farmers use to grow crops while protecting the environment. Some farms even let you pick your own fruits and vegetables!
Learn More: The Nature Conservancy
8. Eat Green
The livestock farming industry produces 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With this in mind, you can encourage kids to be more conscious and eat more plant-based foods. Perhaps you and your kids can practice Meatless Mondays as a family commitment to sustainability.
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Composting can reduce food waste and transform it into nutritious fertilizer. You can teach your kids about composting and let them help you create a composting bin. They can be responsible for collecting your family’s daily food scraps and dumping them in the compost bin.
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10. Landfill Experiment
Why should we reduce food waste? This experiment provides a direct answer. Have kids place food scraps in a bottle of water before placing a balloon on the end and leaving it out in the sun for 7+ days. Kids can observe the gas produced as the food decomposes in a landfill-like environment.
Learn More: Thoughtfully Sustainable
11. Food Waste Audit
Have kids track and record their daily food waste. This can include noting the food type, quantity, and whether it was composted or thrown in the garbage. Tracking these metrics can make your kids more conscious of their food waste patterns.
Learn More: Going Zero Waste
12. Re-Grow Vegetables from Scraps
Some vegetables can be re-grown using only scraps. For example, potato peel eyes can be re-planted to grow in your vegetable garden. This gardening activity can teach kids how to reduce food waste while growing their own food.
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13. Say Bye Bye to Bath Time
As much as your kids might enjoy bath time, you can teach them that showers can save gallons of water. While you may not want to cut out bath time completely, consider taking more frequent showers.
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14. Have an Energy-Free Morning
Are your kids up for the challenge? No lights, no microwave, no electricity… for the entire morning! This exercise can show your kids how much we rely on electricity in our daily lives and how we should try to save it when we can.
Learn More: The Ecology Works
15. Lesson On Climate Change
Your kids might be wondering, “Why should we care about our carbon footprint?” The answer to that is climate change and how it affects the sustainability of our Earth. This informative and engaging video teaches kids all about the impact of our daily decisions on the health of the climate.
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16. DIY Windmill
Renewable sources of energy, such as wind power, can be sustainable alternatives to non-renewable sources, such as oil. Your kids are sure to love making these DIY windmills out of cardboard blades and a paper cup tower.
17. Match ‘N’ Recycle Game
You can create cards to represent recycled materials and dice with sides representing recycling categories. The cards are initially flipped over before players roll the dice to select a matching category card. If it matches, they can place it in the tissue box.
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18. Bottle Cap Art
Kids can collect bottle caps to create recycled art. This fish scene is just one example that uses bottle caps, in addition to paint, cardstock, and googly eyes. Other creative scenes, such as flower art also work nicely. The creative possibilities are endless!
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19. Recycled Robot Art
This recycled craft can include bottle caps and any other recycled materials you have lying around. Some example materials can include recycled paper, tin foil, or broken toy parts that children can use to craft their own unique creations.
Learn More: Artsy Momma
Why not put a twist on the classic game of charades with this sustainability theme? The actions can include different sustainable activities such as walking (instead of driving), switching off lights, or planting trees.
Learn More: Brightful
21. Learn About Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg is a young Swedish environmental activist that can serve as an inspiring figure to young children. You can teach kids about Greta’s journey of advocacy and hands-on activism that started when she was just a teenager.
Learn More: National Geographic Kids
22. Sorbent Science: Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Oil spills can be disastrous for our ecosystem. Kids can mimic an oil spill by combining water and vegetable oil in a glass. Using a mesh coffee filter and different sorbents (e.g., fur, cotton), they can test which material is best for absorbing oil.
Learn More: Science Buddies
23. Earth Spirit Week Challenge
Why not challenge kids to an Earth Week Challenge? This spirit week challenge will have them do something positive for our planet each day centered around the five R’s. They’ll start on Monday by refusing to buy or use non-recyclable products, and through the week they’ll reduce, reuse and repurpose. Finally, on Friday they can recycle items they’ve gathered through the week
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24. Read “Just A Dream”
“Just A Dream” is an inspiring sustainability-themed book that young readers are sure to enjoy. The main character, Walter, doesn’t care about the planet’s health until he has a life-changing dream. In his dream, he sees natural resources being drained and air pollution at its worst, thus realizing his environmental responsibility toward the Earth.
Learn More: Amazon
25. Watch “The Story of Stuff”
This classic eye-opening video is still relevant today. It’s an informative way to teach kids about the unsustainable culture of consumerism, showing the environmental consequences at each stage, from production to disposal.
Learn More: The Story of Stuff Project